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Black Materia - "Black Materia" (CD/EP)

Black Materia - "Black Materia" CD/EP cover image

"Black Materia" track listing:

1. The Shadow, It Holds A Gun (5:03)
2. Cinereal Winter (5:17)

Reviewed by on July 31, 2011

"Not quite radio-ready, but definitely not underground either, the band straddles the middle and just lets the songs flow without much thought to who is going to think it’s too mellow and who is going to think it’s too harsh."

Breaking free of the formula and constraints that can so frequently occur in straightforward extreme metal, Black Materia is an exploration into post-rock and less heavy sounds from metal musicians. Leaving behind most of the abrasiveness of death metal, the “Black Materia” EP is two tracks of solid, if unpolished, music somewhere between hard rock and metal. Not quite radio-ready, but definitely not underground either, the band straddles the middle and just lets the songs flow without much thought to who is going to think it’s too mellow and who is going to think it’s too harsh.

Despite the band’s name, there aren’t any video game style influences to be found, and fans of Nobuo Uematsu shouldn’t be expecting anything even remotely in that vein. Musically, the songs combine general heavy metal riffs with a massive rock leaning and primarily clean singing. The heavily effects-laden vocals don’t precisely sound like any other band, but overall feel like a slightly more radio friendly version of those bands that aren’t necessarily metal, but still make the rotation among metal fans, such as Tool or Godsmack.

The sound quality is decent for a promo EP, but in some instances it almost feels like the band members aren’t yet perfectly gelling together and aren’t all working toward the same sound. The long, drawn out higher pitched yells that occur throughout “The Shadow, It Holds the Gun” are a noticeable example of how everyone isn’t on the same page and the production could use a little boost, as they distort badly and end up being irritating if the volume is too high. The bass, on the other hand, has some interesting and darkly discordant melodies that are somewhat proggy sounding.

As an experiment away from pure metal and into post-rock, Black Materia shows a lot of potential and has music well worth hearing, even if there are still plenty of rough patches. In some ways it sounds like a less heavy and less jazz influenced version of At The Soundawn, or perhaps a more heavy rendition of Second Coming. Whether the EP is heavier rock or less harsh metal is completely up in the air, but it’s got enough of a hook to possibly intrigue fans who lean in either direction.

Highs: Cool mix of sounds that has the catchiness and mellowness of rock, but still plenty of heavy aspects as well.

Lows: Sound quality is decent but not great, and some of the vocals distort badly.

Bottom line: An interesting exploration into post-rock that straddles the line between hard rock and heavy metal.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)